Category: Feature

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Empathetically Correct

    The outrage over Donald Trump’s remarks in recent weeks  has not only been hysterical and pitiful; it has, on a very fundamental level, exposed one of the most pernicious pillars of post-Christian psychobabble in the modern West: namely, the extolling and promotion of “empathy” as a moral guidepost. The response to Trump may have been the most clear example to date of how this very clever trick from the evil one has created a nasty cultural infection in America and Europe. It is a form of Christian heresy, perhaps not as overt as Luther’s challenge to the Church in...

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Properties of Blood I.2: Love and Hate, Part D

The Everlasting Paleolithic Man Since Descartes, moral and political philosophers have tended to turn away from ordinary human experience and drawn up moral codes and political schemes that seem more like Aristophanes’ Nephelococcygia (Land of the Cuckoos-in-the-Clouds) than any human polity.  Classical liberals wanted to eliminate or attenuate formal social classes, established religion, and irrational bonds of kinship; Marxists would abolish property and economic distinction; more recent radicals want to banish sexual differences and to subject the family to governmental control.  The goal of all these projectors was a rationally designed society controlled by the state and based on principles...

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Annals of Trebizond IV, Facts and Fictions

The long reign of Alexios III  (1349-90) marks the beginning of the end of the Empire of Trebizond.   Alexios, as the result of a palace coup,  came to the throne as a boy of 11, and his youth and inexperience were an invitation to challenges of every sort:  warlords in the provinces, his own counselors and bureaucrats, and even from within the church.  The Trapezuntine elite was dominated by factions loyal either to Constantinople or to the more locally centered provincial aristocracy.  The feud between the Genoese and Venetians broke out again, when the latter were once again granted...

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Wednesday’s Child: Letter from London

  A funny story, this, but it also kind of makes you want to cry, a perfect combination for a Wednesday’s child broadside– especially in Advent, with its heritage of Dickensian, bittersweet tales of moral instruction. I am in London this week to help out a friend who got himself in trouble. A few months ago, returning from a dinner party in a state of more than slight inebriation, he hailed a black cab – you know the kind, the retro thingie with a doorframe high enough to accommodate a man wearing a top hat, the legendary vehicle that makes...

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Climate Change: A Frank Conversation, Part One

The recent global summit on climate change—inevitably described as “historic”—was discussed and analyzed all over the media-sphere, by bloggers read only by their mothers and friends (if they have any) and  by the the most swollen talking heads on television.  Everyone was interviewed, profiled, and analyzed.  One important participant—an observer really—who escaped their attention was an obscure Italian political analyst, whose work has been studied without understanding for many years.  I had a chance to sit down with this great skeptic, and interview him on condition of anonymity.  Let’s just call him Nick O.  Before the conversation was over, we were...

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Yes, indeed: Trump Should Apologize!

Dear Reader, I would like to announce today that I whole-heartedly agree with the Republican establishment and the American media establishment that Donald Trump owes an apology to all of us for his recent comments on Islamic immigration, but with one caveat: I think Trump should apologize not for what he said about Muslims but for what he did not say. Donald Trump should apologize to the American people for failing to even broach the topic of the Council On American-Islamic Relations’ track record. CAIR is the most visible Islamic organization in the United States, quoted quite liberally by the major media...

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Aliens and Seditious Acts

Donald Trump, as heavy-footed and inarticulate as he is, has shows himself time after time to be a man of superb political instincts.  Cut off, for most of his life, from contact with ordinary Americans, he manages, nonetheless, to display old-fashioned common sense in statements guaranteed both to delight what is fast becoming the Silent Minority and to outrage the cowards, liars, and flunkeys who dominate politics and the press. Donald’s latest stunt—and we can only hope that it is not just a stunt—is to call for a moratorium on Islamic immigration into the United States.  Of course, most sensible...

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Cicero, De Officiis, A ON THE HOUSE

As a Roman moralist, Cicero is seen at his best in the three books of his De Officiis, a work that Dr. Johnson said ought to be read once a year.  Officia are not public offices but duties, the responsibilities it is incumbent upon us to carry out.  Cicero  draw his primary inspiration from Plato and his followers in the Middle Academy, a phase of Platonism that emphasized epistemological skepticism.  However, he was  also very eclectic and fair-minded, seeking useful truths wherever he could find them–especially from Aristotle but also from the Stoics whose extremism he objected to.  For all his...

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Wednesday’s Child: Man vs. SORM

You know me, folks. You know that when I hear the phrase “human rights” I release the safety catch of my Browning, or at least spit on the floor to register contempt.  Like “social diversity,” which is its opposite in real life–and like a thousand other weasel phrases too noxious to enumerate here–that neologism is not only not a synonym of individual liberty, but often its functional antonym.  So you will not think less of me if I mention something called the European Court of Human Rights in other than a derisory way. Some nine years ago a man in...

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Properties of Blood I.2: Love and Hate, C

The Realm of Love But on this side there is no end to strife, where violence has taken love to wife– a pagan tale of Venus and of Mars, matter of fact and heedless as the stars of carnage done in our too human wars. “Love makes the world go round,” as an old proverb has it.  Does this mean anything more than the obvious fact, celebrated in Valentine cards and romantic novels, that sexual attraction between male and female is a necessary condition for propagating many species, the human species in particular?  What is love?  Philosophers since Plato and...